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Taking Baby Steps Through a Morning With Anxiety

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Drip. Drop. Splash.

Drip. Drop. Splash.

Drip. Drip.

Splash. Splash.

To some people, the sound of water dripping from a pipe is nothing. But for me, it can be the most pleasant music ever, or the most excruciating noise ever.

4:50 a.m.

I wiped the foggy mirror till I saw the reflection of myself. The sunken eyes, the chapped lips, the hollowed cheeks. It was no wonder people would point at me, saying that I need help. That I’m drifting away.

5:50 a.m.

I exited out from the foggy bathroom, which was due to the scalding hot water I always use when I have the blues. I gave a glance towards my entire room space. The thick blanket was falling from the bed towards the floor. The unkempt wardrobe from a week of unfolded clean laundry. The workspace which had three empty mugs of coffee or tea and books. I gave out a loud sigh, thinking this is a new day. A new day which I can’t help to mourn for with my condition. I put on a black abaya which had appropriate warmth in usual days, but not in the extremes of winters these days. I turned up the heater to the max, boiled some water and took the fourth mug which was clean and put into it a packet of green tea. I stared blankly towards the mug I’m holding, mind flying away from what I should do today.

Bullet Journal.

I tried to remember what I wrote last night during my episodes of early insomnias. So many things to do. From revising for the upcoming final exams, to reading research papers, and not to mention those papers I had to write for the upcoming meeting. So much in a big blank space. Suddenly, a feeling too familiar starts to creep up my mind. The sense of helplessness. The hyperventilating and cold sweats which I can’t control. The tremors and weakness in my arms and legs. The scream in my head calling out for help.

Suddenly, a high pitched noise from the kettle awaked me up from the terrifying incident. I quickly wiped my sweaty palms and took the kettle. Poured the boiling water and immediately took a sip into my throat. It burned, but it did more help than harm for me right now. I took my mobile phone and looked at the home screen.

6:15 a.m.

My how time flies, I thought to myself. I took a seat on my study chair and quickly ran my hands over the papers and books of neuropsychiatry. I took the one with thick pages and red back cover. I opened the page of our first lecture in the department. Anxiety Disorders.

My, my, how ironic.

I opened the page after bismillah, and did a speed reading for the content. It wasn’t that hard since I prepared for neuropsychiatry long before I entered the department. But what frustrated me the most was only few points were describing the actual disorder. I opened my laptop and tried to search for my own readings.


After browsing a few pages, I found something interesting. Too interesting that it made me scoff. It was a to-do list for the people who live with generalized anxiety disorder. It said that breaking a big picture into smaller ones might help to relieve the anxiety they struggled with.

The thing that made me scoff was that I had been doing that for the past two years. And it didn’t do much help. Bullet journals. Planning things three days ahead of time. Avoiding things which came too suddenly. I prepared everything ahead and made it perfect, so I won’t face unnecessary worries. But it still doesn’t help me with my anxiety attacks nor with my panic disorders specifically.

But then, I might be too much of a perfectionist. When something happens, I brake down quite easily.

I forgot everything I plan has flaws. That the tips in these self-help books and pages had flaws as well. And maybe, it just meant to be flawed as it is. Not flawless, like what people expect it to be.

Maybe I should made my aim of the day, “Making cup of green tea deliciously,” instead of, “Finish reading a whole book of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” I’m not Spencer Reid, even I wanted too! But I can still be him. Slowly, with my own pace.

So I took a piece a memo-pad. Made five bullets just like ones in my bullet journal. Only instead of “Things To Do” as the title, I wrote “Baby Steps” instead. And those five bullets I wrote something trivial, but it left me feeling greatly satisfied when I finished it.

• Wear myHigh Silver Converse and tie it perfectly, so it won’t become loose during my outings.

• Make a cup of my own vanilla cappuccino.

• Binge and treat myself with a healthy episode of “Criminal Minds.”

• Read five pages of “Hunchback Of Notre Dame.”

• Go out and play with the kittens outside the building.

This list will definitely not be going into my oh-so-professional-and-sophisticated bullet journal. But it might help me little by little.

I look at the clock of my laptop.

7:15 a.m.

And I’m late five minutes from my perfectionist schedule. I quickly put on my scarf and niqab and go quickly to the front door (poor green tea, which had become cold!). As I pulled my usual black wedges from the cabinet, my body stopped. My mind wandered to the “Baby Steps” list. I closed my eyes and let out a deep sigh. I put away the black wedges and get my High Silver Converse. I put them on carefully and tie the knots tightly, so it won’t get loose, otherwise it won’t be considered a victory on my list. Wearing it with satisfaction, I exited the house towards the street.

Whoever thought a small goal could give you such pure bliss?

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Thinkstock photo via leolintang

Originally published: May 26, 2017
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